AUGUSTA – The basketball season in the Mountain Valley Conference has been full of speculation and debate as to which team might emerge on top in Western Maine Class C.

Saturday night, the Mt. Abram Roadrunners made no doubt about it.

Mt. Abram broke open a two-point lead in the third quarter and took off … well … like Roadrunners, in a convincing 62-38 win over Winthrop at the Augusta Civic Center.

It’s the first regional title for the Roadrunners since back-to-back titles in 1991 and 1992.

“I just told one of the parents that it’s been so many years that I’d forgotten what the excitement is like in the championship game,” said Mt. Abram coach Doug Lisherness. “We haven’t stopped talking about the Gold Ball team in 1991. Now I’ve got something else to talk about the next 15 years.”

No. 5 Mt. Abram made it to Augusta after losing in the prelims the past two years. The Roadrunners then ran the table, knocking off fourth-ranked Monmouth and then top-seeded Dirigo.

It was the first time since 1994 that the C final didn’t feature Dirigo.

“It’s amazing,” said senior guard Logahn Walker. “I’d never played here, and the last four games have been amazing. So I can’t wait to go for the Gold Ball.”

Walker spearheaded a potent team that featured the inside tandem of Brittany York and Janessa Thomas. Thomas led Mt. Abram (16-6) with 21 points and 11 rebounds while York had 15 points and 17 rebounds. York was named the tournament’s most outstanding player.

As if the post tandem wasn’t enough, the Roadrunners had Kenni Norton chipping in from the outside or driving to the hoop. Norton finished with 11 while Stephanie Coburn and Walker added seven and six points, respectively.

“I think it was a great team effort,” said Lisherness. “Especially in that third quarter, everybody was scoring and rebounding and playing defense. They all just picked it up. I think it was a great team effort and not just one or two doing it.”

The Roadrunners ran off 14 straight points in the third quarter. All Winthrop could do was try to keep pace, but after getting the first basket of the second half, the Ramblers missed 17 straight shots and went eight minutes without a field goal. The Ramblers never recovered from the 18-3 run in the third quarter.

“What are the odds of us missing that many wide open, great looks all night long?” asked Winthrop coach Glen Chase. “We couldn’t get a basket. We couldn’t get something to fall to break their momentum. We ran everything. We got great looks. We were able to penetrate and get shots, but you have nights like that. You just hope its not on a stage like this.”

Katie Pushard led the Ramblers (11-11) with 10 points, and Kaley Ball added eight. Pushard picked up her fourth foul in the third quarter and four starters had three or more fouls in third. With Pushard and Amanda Garwood each nursing foul trouble, it was an uphill climb for the Ramblers.

“They make this team go,” said Chase. “They’ve done so many things so well. For them to go out like that, my hat’s off to Mt. Abram. They got hot at the right time.”

Down 26-22 at the half, the Ramblers got a hoop from Justine Woodman in the first minute to get Winthrop within two. The Ramblers didn’t get another field goal until early in the fourth.

“We came out knowing that we had the lead,” said York. “We knew if we slowly chipped away at it, they would fold and fall apart. They’d start to foul and get in foul trouble. So we picked it up and started playing a little better defense.”

After two Walker free throws, Norton hit a pull-up jumper. Coburn hit two free throws and Walker then fed Mikayla Burbank and Thomas twice on three straight possessions. Coburn then put back a rebound and the lead was suddenly 40-24.

“Once we got going a little bit, it was like we didn’t want to stop,” said York. “We knew if we kept going and put the baskets in and played defense, we’d win.”

The Roadrunners have now won four straight playoff games against teams they lost to during the regular season.

“It’s always the second time around,” said Walker. “It’s a pattern. It’s always the second time around, and it always a win. And we’re undefeated in our home jersey. So that’s brought us confidence too.”


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